Writing a Will during lockdown
The Private Client team at Vincents Solicitors is still working hard during the Covid-19 crisis, and dealing with many pressing issues for our clients.
Lisa Lodge, Director and Private Client Solicitor at Lancashire’s Vincents Solicitors
In these unprecedented and uncertain times, we have seen an increase of enquiries from worried people across the local community, but particularly from family members of elderly clients. With that in mind we want to address some of the questions surrounding the writing of Wills and making arrangements for Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Is it possible to write a Will at the moment?
Yes it is. While we have closed our six branch offices, our solicitors are still working hard to ensure that all clients get the quickest and most efficient service possible. We have a team which can come out to your home to take Will instructions, and then to witness them so that they are executed correctly.
We also have staff who are working from home, but linked to our office systems, who ensure the administration side of things is unaffected by the current situation.
We have also embraced technology so that we can video call our clients via Face Time, Skype, Whatsapp or Zoom, and we’re happy to talk clients through the step-by-step instructions needed to access and download these new communications tools.
Do we need to have a Will witnessed and how can we do this while in isolation?
Our dedicated compliance team is helping us to implement latest guidance from the Law Society to ensure that any Wills which are drafted during these exceptional times are valid and executed correctly. We are still able to travel, as a journey to our clients’ home is considered ‘essential travel’, so we can provide reassurance that the document will be finalised as it would under normal circumstances. It is important to the team that we don’t let our clients down when they need us the most, and that they know they can rely on us.
I wrote my Will more than five years ago, should I update it?
Probably ! So many things change over the years. Five years ago I was married with children at primary school. My Will left directions for who should be their guardians if the worst happened, and details such as the school I wanted them to attend and the holidays I wanted them to take.
Now, as teenagers, the situation would be very different and I have recently updated my Will. And thank goodness I did. The newly appointed guardians are more appropriate for the current time and would not require the children to move school or put too much pressure on my elderly parents.
So yes, it is good practice to review your will every three to five years, or whenever there are any big changes in your circumstances; getting married, getting divorced, having children or grandchildren, buying a new home or selling a property or setting up a new business for example.
Can I make amendments to my current Will?
We prefer to update a will in its entirety rather than preparing a codicil (which is how we can amend your current Will). Lots of Wills we see are quite old fashioned and full of legal words that no one understands and can sometimes lead to ambiguity and possible conflict. We like straight forward plain English, which is one of the things most of our clients like best about the way we approach writing a Will.
If I am taken ill with the Coronavirus, will the wishes of my current Lasting Power of Attorney be carried out?
Yes. In a Lasting Power of Attorney you will have appointed your ‘attorney’.
This means that if you lose capacity or are in hospital for a period of time, then your attorney will be able to apply for benefits on your behalf, pay your bills and generally look after your property and financial affairs.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare are becoming more and more vital where there is an aging population and increasing numbers of people living longer with conditions such as dementia.
Your attorney or attorneys can access your medical records and assist the medical team with any decisions that need to be made. The current public health crisis has also highlighted the importance of this type of safety net in the event of illness.
The Office of the Public Guardian, with whom we have to register all Lasting Power of Attorney applications, has been great during this time and - often with a nudge from our specialist team - can progress new applications urgently.
Should I have a Lasting power of Attorney in place if I have longer lasting effects from falling ill with Coronavirus?
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney is a sensible measure for anyone. There are three types: Business, Property and Financial Affairs, and Health and Welfare. It’s particularly important if you have a business which needs to operate without you, even for a short period of time.
And on a personal level, it’s crucial to have someone manage your financial or health and well being decisions should you become ill.
It’s not a pleasant train of thought, but it is important now more than ever to consider carefully who would act as attorney on your behalf, particularly if you would want to nominate a family member who lives far away.
As solicitors. we can act as attorney for you and in fact we do this for many of our clients and don’t think twice about going the extra mile on their behalf.
Are you doing anything for Key Workers?
Yes of course. We are making ourselves available to speak to key workers at any time of day or night at a time that suits them between shifts. They just need to call and make an appointment or drop us an email if that’s easier. We are also 25% off our services in recognition of the tremendous work they are doing on behalf of this country.
For any enquiries regarding
Writing a Will during lockdown
please contact our
01772 555 176